Game on: Cisco has acquired spin-in Insieme Networks for up to $863 million, depending on revenue targets, and rolled out a family of its switches that are the network giant's strategic answer to the growing software defined network movement.
And as expected, that response -- ACI (Application Centric Infrastructure) -- is largely hardware-based, with a new line of application aware Nexus 9000 switches supporting custom ASICs and/or merchant silicon, depending on what you want to do with it. It also includes a policy controller called APIC (Application Policy Infrastructure Controller) for assigning service levels and access privileges to applications, a new version of Cisco's NX-OS operating system and a multiplicity of big name endorsers, including BMC, Computer Associates, Citrix, EMC, Embrane, Emulex, F5, IBM, Microsoft, NetApp, OpsCode, Panduit, Puppet Labs, Niksun, Red Hat, SAP, Splunk, Symantec, VCE, and VMware. (See our first look slideshow of Cisco's product.)
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Insieme's launch is sure to heat up competition with VMware, which acquired Nicira for $1.26 billion to virtualize networks the way it virtualizes servers. VMware's NSX ecosystem includes some of Cisco's most bitter rivals.
Cisco says ACI and its group of allies will provide data centers and cloud providers with unobstructed visibility and integrated management of both physical and virtual networked IT resources built around the needs of applications, which the company says are "the lifeblood of business." The company says ACI is designed to unify all the component parts of IT networking, storage, compute, network services, applications, security and manage them as a single dynamic entity.
Cisco says this ecosystem, combined with APIC's APIs and some open source acknowledgements, makes ACI "open." Yet much of that openness apparently depends on whether the APIC is deployed.